Athletes at the Tokyo Olympics have been performing super (and super-human) athletic feats, even as COVID-19 and other controversies swirl. With so much happening during these Games, it can be hard to keep track of what is going on.
JAPAN Forward is monitoring the key happenings in a handful of Olympic sports during the day and bringing reports to our readers through this Olympic Digest. Please bookmark JAPAN Forward’s page for the latest Olympic-related news from Japan!
Track and Field
Ikeda, Yamanishi Finish 1-2 in Men’s 20-km Race Walk
Italy’s Massimo Stano won the men’s 20-km race walk crown at Sapporo Odori Park, while Japanese entrants Koki Ikeda and Toshikazu Yamanishi delighted the host nation by finishing second and third in the event.
Stano, a 29-year-old Rome resident, completed the race in 1 hour, 21 minutes, 5 seconds, beating Ikeda to the finish line by 9 seconds.
Yamanishi, the reigning world champion, secured the bronze medal in 1:21.28.
Ikeda made Olympic history for Japan by producing the nation’s 42nd medal at the Tokyo Games, which topped the national record for a single Games (41, set at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics).
Ikeda placed sixth (1:29.02) in the event at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, where Yamanishi captured the gold in 1:26.34.
Two years later, his much-improved time in the 20-km race produced an Olympic medal to savor for decades to come.
While Ikeda, 23, and Yamanishi, 25, came up short achieving their ultimate goal on home soil, they’ll have a story to share with family, friends and acquaintances for the rest of their lives.
Stano made sure of it by remaining at the finish line “to congratulate the Japanese duo with whom he’d spent much of the race at the head of the pack,” Olympics.com reported.
Yamanishi questioned his racing tactics after the event.
“I was too much like, should I pursue or shouldn’t I?” he admitted before telling reporters that “I failed to achieve my goal of winning the gold, so I guess that means there was something lacking in my training and everything I did leading up to today.”
Whereas Yamanishi reflected on the what-ifs after the race, Ikeda said his approach paid off.
“I’ve lost so many times to Yamanishi and really worked on keeping up with his spurts, and that really bore fruit on this big stage,” Ikeda was quoted as saying by Kyodo News.
After 60 minutes had elapsed, the 57-man race featured seven men at the front of the pack, including Ikeda, who was born in Hamamatsu, and Yamanishi, a Kyoto Prefecture native.
Track and Field at the New National Stadium
Thursday’s other athletics events were held at the New National Stadium in Tokyo.
Portugal’s Pedro Pichardo won the men’s triple jump with a top leap of 17.98 meters, a national record.
American Ryan Crouser, the 2016 Olympic champion, defended his title in the men’s hammer throw with a top toss of 23.30 meters, an Olympic record.
Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment triumphed in the men’s 100-meter hurdles final, crossing the line in 13.04 seconds. He placed third at the 2012 London Games.
After the race, Parchment exuded joy.
“The greatest feeling, the greatest feeling,” he told reporters. “I’ve worked so hard. It’s unbelievable that I caught this guy [Grant Holloway]. I’m really grateful.
Spain’s Gines Lopez Races to Gold in Sport’s Olympic Debut
In a surprise finale uncertain until the very last seconds of the competition, Spain’s Alberto Gines Lopez raced to the gold medal with a total of 28 points, (the lower the score, the higher the rank). At the age of 18, he became the first-ever Olympic champion in the sport.
Gines Lopez took an early lead by acing the first of three categories in the competition, where athletes race up a climbing wall in record times between five and six seconds.
American Nathaniel Coleman, 24, took the silver medal overall with 30 points. He took the lead in the second round of the competition, bouldering, where athletes attempted to solve three climbing problems in under four minutes.
Austria’s Jakob Schubert scored a surprise bronze medal by ranking first in the final round, the lead. Climbers clip themselves up chord checkpoints as they climb on a 15-meter wall, in the closest reproduction of a mountain climb.
In the last minute of the competition the Austrian became the only athlete to complete over 45 holds on his way up the 15-meter climb, leaving the athlete to whoop ecstatically with joy.
Schubert grabbed third place with 35 points, narrowly overtaking Japan’s Tomoa Narasaki, at 36 points. He was considered the ace of Japan, the all-around world champion in Hachioji in 2019.
“I really felt the difficulty of a competition which only happens once every four and five years,” reflected Narasaki later to NHK.
Another athlete who missed out on the limelight was Czech Republic’s Adam Ondra, widely considered one of the best indoor and outdoor climbers in the world. Despite managing to almost finish the final lead climb, he concluded the competition sixth overall with 48 points.
Tanaka Secures Bronze, Yields to Philippines’ Paalam
Tanaka went into the rink at Kokugikan Arena with an unbroken streak, having prevailed over Venezuela’s Yoel Finol Rivas, China’s Jianguan Hu and Columbia’s Yuberjen Herney Martinez Rivas (5-0, 3-1 and 4-1).
However, Tanaka this time found his nemesis in the Philippines’ Carlo Paalam, who took the match with five judges finding in favor of him over three rounds, finishing the match at 5-0 at Kokugikan Arena.
Tanaka kept up the pressure by actively punching in the first round, but Paalam responded to the hits with ease. In the second round, the Gifu native changed to a more defensive strategy, but he was not able to change the course of the match.
Tanaka has become the first Japanese to gain a medal in the men’s flyweight division since Kiyoshi Tanabe, who also gained bronze in the Olympics in Rome in 1960.
“This is the best feeling ever, I have no regrets,” said Tanaka to NHK. “I think I have achieved everything I could today.”
Paalam will go on to challenge Great Britain’s Galal Yafai for the gold medal in the final. Should he achieve a win, Paalam could win the first-ever gold medal in the sport for his country, and become the Philippines’ second gold medalist in history, after Hidilyn Diaz gained the first historic gold in women’s weightlifting on July 26.
China Takes Gold and Silver in Women’s 10-Meter Platform
Quan, 14, scored straight perfect 10s for three of her dives, sending her to the top of the rankings at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. The competition ended with a gap of 40.80 points between her and Chen, 15, who also won gold in the women’s synchronized 10-meter platform event.
The bronze medal went to Australia’s Melissa Wu. The 29-year-old competed in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympics, but on all three occasions just missed the podium.
Japan’s Matsuri Arai placed 22nd in the preliminary round and missed the 18th-place cutoff for the semifinals.
Matsushita Eliminated in Sprint Kayak Single 200-Meter Semifinals
Momotaro Matsushita finished in last place in the first semifinal heat in the men’s canoe sprint kayak single 200-meter race at Sea Forest Waterway in the morning. He was clocked in 37.096 seconds. Hungary’s Kolos Csizmadia won the eight-man race in 35.099 seconds.
In the final, Hungary’s Sandor Totka, who finished fourth at the 2016 Rio Games, won the race in 35.035 seconds. Italy’s Manfredi Rizza was second (35.080), followed by third-place finisher Liam Heath of Great Britain (35.202) and Csizmadia (35.317).
U.S. Trounces South Korea in Semifinal Showdown
The Americans will face Japan in the gold-medal game which will be held on Saturday, August 7 at Yokohama Stadium.
Leading 2-1, the U.S. broke the game open with a five-run sixth inning, capped by Austin’s single to center that scored two runs.
Austin, who plays for the Yokohama BayStars in Nippon Professional Baseball, has thrived at the tournament in his home ballpark.
Heading into Thursday’s game, Austin was batting .412 with five RBIs, seven hits and five runs scored.
U.S. pitcher Ryder Ryan picked up the win after coming on in the fifth inning and holding four South Korean batters scoreless. South Korea pitcher Euilee Lee took the loss after giving up two runs on five hits over five innings.
Japan will be bidding for its first-ever gold medal in Olympic baseball.
South Korea won the gold the last time baseball was contested at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The United States will be bidding for its first gold since Sydney in 2000.
U.S. Men Reach Fourth Consecutive Olympic Final
The three-time defending Olympic champion United States men’s basketball squad advanced to the gold-medal match with a clinical 93-78 semifinal victory over Australia at Saitama Super Arena.
Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant had 23 points and nine rebounds, Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns poured in 20 points and teammates Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday of the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks chipped in 11 points apiece. Holiday added eight rebounds and eight assists in a strong all-around performance.
The United States outscored Australia 32-10 in the third quarter to take a 74-55 advantage into the final stanza.
In the second semifinal, which was contested in the evening, France defeated Slovenia 90-89, with Nicolas Batum blocking Klemen Prepelic’s potential shot from close range in the final shot to secure the victory.
The Olympic final is on Saturday, August 7 at 11:30 a.m.
Korda Takes Four-Stroke Lead Into Third Round
Nelly Korda of the United States persevered through more blistering heat to fire a 9-under-par 62 and take a four-stroke lead after the second round of the women’s golf tournament at the Tokyo Olympics.
LPGA regular Korda carded nine birdies and an eagle at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture, to finish at 13-under 129. Her only blemish was a double-bogey on the par-4 18th hole.
Overnight leader Madelene Sagstrom finished in sole possession of fifth place after a 68 gave her a two-day total of 8-under 134.
With rain and heavy winds forecast for the weekend, organizers have said the tournament may have to be completed on Friday, August 6, after three rounds.
Japan’s Mone Inami vaulted into contention with a solid 65 that left her six strokes off the lead. Inami had five birdies, an eagle and a double bogey.
U.S. Women’s Team Wins Bronze
The United States edged Australia 4-3 to win the women’s soccer bronze-medal match.
The Americans led 3-1 at halftime. U.S. star Megan Rapinoe gave her team a quick lead by scoring in the eighth minute. Australia captain Sam Kerr tied the score in the 17th minute, with an assist from Caitlin Foord.
The United States regained the lead with two more goals in the first half, one again by Rapinoe in the 21st minute and another one minute into extra time by Carli Lloyd. Lloyd scored another goal in the 51st minute.
Foord and teammate Emily Gielnik scored two more goals for Australia, with Gielnik’s in the 90th minute, but the team wasn’t able to tie the game.
The United States women’s team medaled in all past Olympics except for the Rio Olympics, with four golds and a silver. This is the team’s first bronze. Australia’s women’s team placed seventh at the Rio Games.
Belgium Tops Australia in a Shootout to Nab Men’s Title
Belgium prevailed 3-2 over Australia in a shootout to win the men’s hockey final at Oi Hockey Stadium.
Florent van Aubel gave Belgium the early 1-0 lead in the 8th minute.
Australia’s Tom Joseph Wickham tied it up in the 47th minute.
After the fourth quarter failed to break the tie, the match proceeded into a shootout to determine the winner.
In the shootout, Australia took five shots.
Belgium only needed four shots to win the shootout, getting goals from van Aubel and Arthur Anne-Marie Thierr de Sloover on its first two attempts. Felix Veronique B. Denayer then missed the third shot before Alexander Robby P. Hendrickx scored the golden goal on Belgium’s fourth attempt.
Belgium claimed silver in the event at the Rio Games.
Authors: Jim Armstrong, Arielle Busetto, Serena Landers, Ed Odeven